Major victory for San in Botswana

Court halts relocation of people from Ranyane

Richard Lee's picture

Author

Strategic communications for WWF

June 18th, 2013

In a major victory for the San in Botswana, a court issued an order today restraining the government from relocating people from Ranyane.

The San went to court when it became clear that the authorities were from the settlement, which is around 220 km south of Gantsi and houses a community of more than 600 San.

“We appeal to the government of Botswana to respect this permanent restraining order and to allow the people of Ranyane to live without the fear of relocation hanging over their heads,” said Keikabile Mogodu, Director of the Khwedom Council, a non-governmental organisation advocating for the rights of the San (or Basarwa) people.

The court issued the order after the two sides – the Ranyane San and the Ghanzi Land board, Ghanzi District Council and Ghanzi District Commission – agreed to settle the matter. However, it is clear from the nature of the agreement and the fact that the court awarded costs to the San applicants that this represents an important victory for the San.

According to the court order:

  • If the authorities return to Ranyane, they will park their vehicles and/or pitch tents on the other side of the main Kgotla – previously they had occupied the kgotla (or meeting place) and prevented the residents from accessing the water pipe which was located next to it;
     
  • The authorities will not permit their officers to enter any household compound occupied by the Ranyane San without their express consent – as opposed to the door-to-door campaigns that officials were waging to ‘encourage’ people to relocate;
     
  • The authorities will not remove the engine that currently operates the borehole at Ranyane without 14 days prior written notice to the community’s attorneys; and
     
  • No one shall be removed from Ranyane less than 48 hours after the authorities have informed the community’s lawyers by telephone of their proposed removal.

“We also call upon the government to recognize Ranyane as a settlement and begin to develop it in line with its established policies by providing basic services like a school, health post etc.,” said Mogodu

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